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Municipal Elections Under Way In Moldova

An election monitor checks a Moldovan newspaper (OSCE) June 3, 2007 -- Moldovans are voting today in municipal elections across the country, except for the separatist region of Transdniester.

Voters living in the pro-Russian Transdniester area cannot take part in the ballot because the region's leaders do not recognize Moldova's authority in the area.

Some 2.5 million voters are eligible to elect some 900 mayors and 12,000 local councilors. A turnout of 25 percent is necessary for the elections to be declared valid.

If no mayoral candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff would be scheduled for June 17 in that municipality, between the two top candidates.

First partial results are expected on June 4.

The vote is a midterm electoral test for the ruling Communists, who won the general election in 2005.

The big prize in the poll is the capital, Chisinau, where the Communist candidate is seen as a favorite to win the post of mayor for the first time, although not from the first round.